When outsourcing the number one thing to get on the table from the beginning is communication; ask how they plan to communicate with you and defy geographical and language barriers. Consider their industry experience—what kind of work have they done in your niche area? Technical expertise, scalability, and IP ownership should also be major concerns.
Chetu was cited in Now Tech: Service Providers for Custom Software Development, a March 2018 Forrester report.
The custom software development process can be daunting, especially when expanding beyond your internal bandwidth and recruiting a third-party to bring your solution to market. Seeing your vision come to fruition begins with choosing a capable development partner, considering aspects of their development model that may not necessarily seem paramount to the decision making process.
Here, Chetu explores those key aspects all businesses must take into consideration before entering an official partnership to carry out their bespoke development needs.
Table of Contents
Considering Industry Experience
Although many development options leverage extensive experience, there is always a question of whether they are leveraging the right experience. Asking the question, what kind of experience are they leveraging in my industry, will allow you to find the needle in the haystack that services your specific industry.
Review their case studies and get a feel for their experience with the technologies you are looking to implement. How many years of experience do their developers have? What technologies have they worked with and to what degree? The technology is the engine of the project, so it is paramount to make sure the mechanics understand the engine's working parts
Using Your Resources
Get a good grasp for what is included in your development rate. If project managers are included, you will be able to be as hands on or hands off as you desire. If they are not, you will be forced to remain on the forefront of the research and design campaign, keeping development staff on track and on time.
Eliminating Communication Barriers
Understand exactly how you will communicate with your project team prior to kickoff. For providers using international resources, communication is usually a pain point. How will you overcome these barriers? Establish guidelines and standards immediately to reduce miscommunication down the road. Find a partner who uses a nearshore contact to serve as interface between you and your developer, ensuring no expectations go misinterpreted. Here you must consider your potential partner's system for client-developer engagement and project team dynamics.
Scaling to Your Needs
Software development needs fluctuate like the weather as projects pivot and expand. Other times, you scale down and need to scale back due to budgetary constraints. It happens. For this reason, it is best to inquire about provider scalability. This way you can build long-term strategic partners, rather than re-strategizing every time a project changes course.
Owning Your Code
Sometimes this comes as an unanticipated cost as the development process concludes, an extra fee for the release of the final deliverable or for the rights to the code. Collaborating with a company that hits you with an additional price tag at the end for a technology you envisioned is not a good look. Review the contract closely to ensure you have the rights to your own idea.
Tailoring Price to Outfit Your Project
Do not fall into the fixed-price trap. This will result in a sub-par product that will inevitably require additional development to rectify. Find a partner that will thoroughly vet your project prior to estimating a development cost. Ideally, price should come after the development of a project plan to reduce speed bumps in the process.
Introduction: Choosing the Right Development Partner
There is one constant for all operations: the need to evolve and reinvent to remain relevant in a dynamic consumer climate. Businesses brainstorm innovative software, intuitive website designs, and groundbreaking applications to keep pace with market demands, but when it comes to seeing these projects through to fruition, business owners are often met with limited bandwidth. When internal resources cannot be scaled to meet project demands, proprietors take to the internet for third-party development, overwhelmed by the plethora of programmers and unsure of where to begin.
Finding a true and seamless back-end software partner can be challenging in a saturated market. To refine your search, it is important to review key elements within each prospective development model prior to committing to an official partnership. Fully vetting each prospect will ensure you not only complete your project objectives, but supersede them.
While budgetary concerns are a primary facet of the decisions-making process, choosing a development company based solely on cost structure returns software that reflects the low investment. Unfortunately, low quality and low cost often run parallel.
Rather than thinking one dimensionally, you need to think big picture. Answering the following questions before committing to a software provider will guarantee a robust, revenue-driving software that will usher your operation toward an enlightened era.
What kind of experience are they leveraging in my industry? It is easy for companies to misrepresent their experience, using the age of their operation as a marketing maneuver. In reality, level of skill and industry expertise are a product of the workforce, rather than the company. A business can be around for many years, but only hire inexperienced developers to keep their overhead down. In order to circumvent this discrepancy, business owners must get down to the nitty-gritty, revealing what exists below the surface.
Establish the baseline by inquiring about their developer standards. Identify whether their staff leverages the in-depth knowledge your project requires and inquire about which technologies, standards, and regulations they are fluent in. Each industry comes with a unique technological paradigm, so hiring a software development company that is segmented by industry is paramount to the success of the project. If a developer can substantiate previous experience within your specific landscape, they will be able to implement the proper techniques and meet all regulatory standards inherent to your project.
Level of experience should be apparent early on in the relationship and sales process, and both parties should proceed with total transparency. Chetu not only segments project managers and developers by industry, but also the sales team. Segmenting the entire process end-to-end reassures the client, letting them know from the beginning that Chetu shares their vision and is fully capable of delivering the code to market. Chetu's collective industry knowledge supports cross-industry dialogue to meet all project needs
Have they implemented these technologies before? Hiring a software development company that services a broad spectrum of technologies ensures that you will be matched with a development team ready implement your native programming language. This will certainly reduce the number of unforeseen roadblocks and the amount of time spent assimilating to the project's code.
Companies that hide behind a smoke-screen and refuse to allow you to speak directly with the team assigned to your project may be an indication that the individuals tasked to your project lack the necessary skillset.
Who will oversee my project? Low cost providers do not provide a project manager, which puts the onus of overseeing the project on the client. This can be very stressful, as these providers typically operate in an offshore environment and most likely speak a different language than the client.
Chetu assembles an entire project team for each client as part of the agreement, combating all communication barriers with nearshore contacts that serve as an intermediary between client and developer. Chetu's model ensures that there will always be a point of contact that understands the scope of the project and leaves all aspects of the project plan open for discussion.
Rather than hitting the ground running immediately, Chetu fully vets each project to formulate a comprehensive plan of action illustrating to the client how the moving parts will fit together to accomplish their goals. The project plan is a means of making sure the client and the development team collaborate cohesively and proceed with a mutual understanding of what is expected.
Each project plan includes a timeline, carefully outlining deadlines and establishing benchmarks to gauge progress. The plan is tailored to the developmental needs and can take on a variety of forms—Waterfall, Agile-Scrum, Prince2, Critical Chain. In altering the form accordingly, Chetu sees each project through in the most intelligent and efficient means possible.
Will they share my vision and how will they communicate it to the developers? Above everything, communication will make or break the project, especially when hiring a third-party based overseas. Communication concerns break down into two parts: time zone differences and language barriers.
The first possible problem clients address is the language and cultural barrier that prevents effective communication between them and the development team. The deficit can lead to the miscommunication of project requirements, deliverable expectations, and debilitates the partnership in its entirety as both parties become frustrated by the inability properly articulate themselves. The second problem clients address is the time zone differences. When hiring a company where the majority of development occurs overseas, it is possible there will be 12 hours between client and developers. As a result, clients may feel as though they must be awake at all hours, ready address problems occurring in the time zone of the development team. Additionally, the time difference leads to delays in email communications and project updates.
Although Chetu's operation extends overseas, Chetu matches clients with a contact who can communicate fluently in the client's native language and who works the same hours as the client to avoid delays and miscommunications discussed above. The development team works in the client's native time zone rather their own to expedite the development process and facilitate real-time communication when it is most convenient for the client.
Scalability and Flexibility
Can we scale the resources to match the scope of my project? When considering a new project, many companies are concerned with price, communication, and expertise but one area that is often overlooked is whether a company is capable of increasing or decreasing the size of a team based on the needs of the project. This concern is typically one that comes up after development has started. With a locked-in contract, the size of the team remains the same through the lifetime of a project, regardless of whether each developer is needed or if additional developers are required. This limits flexibility in the project and can lead to costly problems down the road if the company chosen for software development is unwilling or unable to scale a project based on client needs.
Chetu operates as a work-for-hire firm. Without locked-in contracts, Chetu maintains a high level of flexibility when it comes to scaling or changing a team to meet the client's needs. The ideal development partner will be able dedicate a team of developers that can fluctuate in size or change out one expert for another based on the project requirements and the client's needs. Being a flexible software development partner, Chetu will work with your company to ensure that the appropriate technological needs are met while continuously seeking ways to help you reduce your overall cost of production.
Who owns the proprietary data? One very important aspect to watch for when selecting a software development partner is who owns the intellectual property and source code once the project is complete. Some companies may charge licensing fees or usage fees for the software developed by their teams for the client because they retain full rights to any product they create.
This can be a surprise to many clients as they expect that fully customized software should not have additional fees or charges. Indeed, companies should be wary of extra charges that are associated with the release or use of proprietary data that extends beyond the completion of the project. With custom projects, the source code and intellectual property should always belong to the client, as the project is designed and created based on the ideas of the individual who hired the software development company.
Cost and Quotes
Are fixed-price models a trap? Yes. Decision makers face tough choices in being able to provide maximum business value within a limited budget. Choosing the right software solutions partner is a critical decision as this represents a potentially large cost to a company. Organizations need their technical solutions provider to be reasonable, cost-effective, and proactive in addressing potential issues. Many are quick to push for a fixed rate contract because they feel that it gives them a flat cost to expect for the project. However, the fixed rate model fails to address the issues that arise when the project requirements change, which often happens during the process of software development.
To put it into perspective, imagine you have a set, fixed price to build a three bedroom, one bathroom house. Halfway through the project, you discover that your mother will move in with you so you will need an additional bedroom and bathroom. Now, the contractor is still obliged to add those additional rooms without increasing the cost due to the limitations of the fixed price contract. However, the contractor is not obligated to make sure the additions are of the same quality as the rest of the house because even though the new work will add time and resources to the project, there is no benefit to the contractor in terms of an equivalent increase in pay. The work is essentially done for free and the quality will reflect that.
To avoid the fixed price trap, many companies opt to get a number of quotes from various providers then choose the lowest cost option. The problem with this is that without knowing the full scope and specifications for the project, development companies find themselves either severely underquoting to win business or over-quoting in an attempt to cover every possible factor. Again, this is often done without the software company knowing the full details of the project.
Without a project plan and high level design documents it is nearly impossible to accurately give a total-cost quote. That is why most companies use deceptive practices by throwing out low ball quotes to entice your business, then to your dismay, quickly increase that number as the full scope of the project is revealed.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
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